Youth Theatre Camp to Premier at New Paltz

Curtains up in Parker Theatre! A brand new summer theatre camp for elementary and high school students will be debuting at SUNY New Paltz.

The camp will be presented by the School of Fine & Performing Arts, department of theatre arts and Broadway Arts Collective. Students will learn firsthand from industry professionals and artists teaching courses revolving around the skills of voice, acting and dance. The camp will run from July 30 to Aug. 3 for grades 9-12 and Aug. 20-24 for grades 4-8.

Denise Summerford, an award winning Broadway actress and founder of Broadway Arts Collective will head the summer camp. Summerford has over 25 years of performance and casting experience. She has worked at more than 15 regional theatres across the country, and is currently still acting and teaching classes at many universities. 

“I have made valuable connections in the business over the years and now I can share these connections with my students,” Summerford said. “I’m also a mom and know how important it is for kids to have positive role models, mentors and nurturing and encouraging teachers.” 

Classes are designed for students of all experience levels. High school and middle school children will be fully immersed in the methods of acting, voice and dance. Speciality classes will focus on stage makeup, acting for the camera, auditioning and voiceovers, just to name a few. Casting agents and special guest artists will also visit.

The wider Hudson Valley community has the opportunity to learn what is happening in the theatre business in regional theatres and New York. The “special” classes dive a bit deeper into the auditioning process and teach things like what a head-shot is, industry standards for how to dress for an audition and the process of a call back. 

Camp will start each day with a good morning circle and warm up exercise. At the end of each week, there will be a “celebratory sharing for friends and family,” according to the website. “Emphasis is placed on process throughout the week rather than ‘product.’”

Ken Goldstein, chair and professor of the department of theatre arts said that the idea for this program had been tossed around for a couple of years, but has finally found the right time for its grand debut. 

“I’m most excited for its opportunity to engage the community, educate and energize with art education,” Goldstein said.

By making ideas together, giving and receiving comments and socializing as an ensemble students can learn important skills. Holly Wilkinson, fourth-year theatre major, said that it’s great that a younger generation of theatre students will have the opportunity to grow with performers at the camp.

“Everyone’s differences make you grow as an ensemble,” Wilkinson said. “Conquering stage fright and performing is important at a young age.”

The theatre community, professionals and staff plan to welcome the students to the community this summer. 

“The children will get to connect with other theatre kids from all over the Hudson Valley and form a supportive and encouraging network of friends who share the same interests,” said Summerford.

Parents can register their children on the theatre camp’s website,